Gene Expression: Super Mike

This is from Art’s subscription blog, so if you like seeing this sort of thing, reading Art’s always cutting edge science, and reading lots of interesting comments from very knowledgeable subscriber commenters, then consider subscribing to Art’s private blog.

Most people who’ve been reading Art for a while know about "Super Mike" and have seen the yearly photos. Here’s the latest, set against how he looked in 1998, 11 years ago. I believe he’s now 56.

Super Mike

Not bad at all. Congratulations, Mike.

Now, while Mike’s success is on the upper end, rest assured that almost everyone can attain excellent results.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Patty on August 16, 2009 at 18:50

    Wow! That’s freakin’ amazing.

  2. Keith Norris on August 17, 2009 at 02:42

    An amazing, yet not all too surprising (at least to us within the Paleo community) transformation.

  3. Greg at Live Fit on August 17, 2009 at 03:54

    All I can say is Wow! What a change.

  4. Tim Rangitsch on August 17, 2009 at 08:00

    Holy Moly. I am glad to know that that is the road I’m headed down. Don’t know that I can every get that ripped, but my health has taken a complete reformation following Paleo/Primal nutrition, lifestyle and exercise principals. Thanks for the post(s), Richard!

  5. Dave, RN on August 17, 2009 at 10:43

    Did he have any plastic surgery? Where did all that loose skin go? I only lost 30 lbs and can detect a bit of loose skin on me. Where’s his? I just want to make sure that we have realistic goals here…

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2009 at 10:49

      I’ve been following Super Mike since I began my own journey more than two years ago, and, I have seen annual pics going back some years. He’s been EFing for about 5 years and before that he had gained much progress in the conventional way. But the EF is what really drove him to the leaness he now sports.

      There are limits, and individual differences. Perhaps he’s particularly blessed, but from what I’ve read, unless extreme, moderate loose skin will tighten up if you lean out enough. Look at your hands & feet to get an idea of how lean you can get in terms of shedding sub-cutaneous fat.

    • san fran J(formerly Minneapolis J on November 23, 2009 at 12:53

      David RN,

      I was reading arthur’s site and super mike’s old testimony. super mike addresses lose skin and says that the reason why he didnt have any is bc he lost the weight so slowly. That was what he said.

  6. Bob Muir on August 17, 2009 at 10:49

    @Dave, RN

    You’ll initially have “loose skin”, primarily due to the remaining fat cells in the skin. Once that final bit of fat is used up, the skin will shrink to match your new physic. Give it time. I have to agree that, until that happens, the loose skin is not all that appealing. 🙁


  7. Dave, RN on August 17, 2009 at 11:14

    Thanks for those updates! Here’s my problem: I’m 6′ tall and 155lbs. Before I started I weighed 185. I thought my weight was OK but when I looked in the mirror, it looked like I was 8 months pregnant. My back got tired from always holding my gut it.
    The ONLY fat I have left on me is some between the navel and up 4 inches or so, and not much at that, about a 1/2″ or so, but I’ve had a hard time getting rid of that, which hids the abs (I’ve been eating paleo for 1.5 years). What is the recommended way to get rid of that little fat pad? I do weight training (free weights) at home 3 days a week. I occastionally cycle, generally 4 to 20 miles at a time, maybe once a week (but right now it’s to freak’n hot here in Texas)! I just last week started Karate lessons as a fun way to maintain good balance, coordination and limberness as I start the second half of my life (I’m 49).
    I need to add that I do drink dairy, but it’s raw, unpasteurized goat milk when I do. I drink maybe 8oz a day because I hear it’s extrordinarily good for you…
    Thanks in advance for your tips to ditch the last of the fat covering my abs!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2009 at 13:44


      You might want to look into Lyle McDonald’s “Stubborn Fat Solution. It’s for those already lean, but with that last bit of stubborn fat.

      Or, you can simply be patient and stay the course, using fasted workouts to get rid of the last bits.

      I’ve also been looking into Yohimbine:

      • timrangitsch on August 26, 2009 at 21:55

        I understand nicotine releases free fatty acids to the blood stream, promotes leaning out. The patch and gum delivered nicotine in small doses could be worth an experiment coupled with IF, Low Carb, and EF! Crazy cheat, perhaps a bad idea.

    • Grok on November 21, 2009 at 13:22

      We are the same size and have the same problem.

      For the record, I’m a huge Lyle fan. I did a protocol based around the SFS. No doubt it worked some, but I also feel I was suffering adrenal fatigue and it really slowed things down. I was a total wreck from the stack affecting sleep.

      You flat out need calorie reduction. I don’t give a shit what anyone says, when you get to a certain point, even on a good paleo diet you will plateau.

      I’ve been using a morphodite version of Doc Eades six week cure. I won’t advocate my twist is the healthiest thing, but it’s certainly busted me out of my plateau.

      Check it out here is you want:

  8. Dave, RN on August 17, 2009 at 13:28

    Wait. something just hit me. I know what IF (intermittant fasting) is, but what’s EF??

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2009 at 13:30

      Evolutionary Fitness (EvFit, or simply EF)

  9. Patrik on August 17, 2009 at 17:23

    Not to take anything away from SuperMike and his equally super physique. But I would love to know what sort of performance he is capable of.

    That is one reason I have much respect for Keith. Not only does he EvFit and it shows, but his performance when it comes to throwing weight around, or bodyweight exercise is tremendous.

    Do we have any data on SuperMike?

  10. tintinthewonderdog on August 26, 2009 at 19:07

    I used to follow Art's blog closely before he started charging for it. There's too many good free paleo resources (your site included) for me to be bothered paying to read Art's stuff too.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2009 at 00:34

      And that's just fine.

      Art's an economist, so I'm sure he'll get it. I suspect his
      subscriptions will dwindle over time — unless, of course, he gets a
      black swan with his forthcoming book.

      Richard Nikoley
      – Sent from my iPhone

  11. Grok on November 21, 2009 at 13:26

    All I have to say is “Holy Shit” about super mikes transformation!

    From wheat-face, to meat-face. Pure awesomeness.

  12. san fran J(formerly Minneapolis J on November 21, 2009 at 16:18

    David RN,

    Have you had your body fat measured? although most tests are not completely reliable you’ll have some idea as to what your body comp is. Grok is right too. Calories matter. They simply do. It doesn’t matter if you are eating a paleo diet, but a caloric deficit really is where fat loss is at. I still eat primal even though I am aware of this concept. Super Mike does seem a bit rare as I don’t know if I see that level of leanness other than a few……Mark Sisson, maybe keith norris.

    Richard where did u hear of that supplement for fat loss?

    • Grok on November 21, 2009 at 18:49

      I’m a believer in good & bad calories, and for sure being a clean paleo eater you can eat more calories and lose weight. But yes they matter.

      Lyle McDonald talks of Yohimbine HCL supplementation in his Stubborn Fat Solution Which is only for people with low bodyfat already.

      Some people stack Yohimbine with Caffeine & Ephedrine (ECY). Lyle does not suggest this! It can be risky for your heart. He only advocates using caffeine with it.

      In the past I’ve personally done ECY, ECA, EC & CY stacks. They work, but so does big calorie restrictions! IMO, big calorie restriction works better and you don’t have any nasty side effects.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 21, 2009 at 19:03

        This is kinda interesting in the sense that even knowledgeable paleos like Castle Grok might engage in non-paleo experimentation. I could, too.

        And, I admit I’ve been interested. However, I came to the conclusion that my getting-hotter-wife is plenty sufficient and I’m just going to let nature take its course. If I can’t get ripped like Super Mike naturally, so be it. I’m plenty lean right now. It’s just a matter of some touch up, I think fasting will do the trick and I’ve lived on this planet coming up on 50 years — most of it as Fat Bastard. I’m patient.

      • Grok on November 21, 2009 at 21:47

        I’m definately an experimenter, but I haven’t done crazy shit like ECA for a while now.

        I do respect your plan for sure Richard. I’d do 100% too, but I’m training for an Ironman, with goals for 2012 Ultraman. I’ve rid my body of ALL the inflammation and meds that were holding me back physically with paleo and calorie restriction/fasting. I’m in good working order now. I just need to get this damn fat off pronto!

        My rationalization is… I abused my body for nearly thousands of weeks on end. Now that I’m 1,000 times healthier I can spend a few more handfuls of weeks getting the fat off and achieving my true state of homeostasis ( Rant here: ), which is a lean, mean, Grok machine! This is why I don’t mind the shake approach to reach that goal in short order. I should be there in December.

        I suppose I could use meat instead of shakes, but the shakes probably have a better amino acid profile. I know they’re better than eggs, because I checked. I’m not especially crazy about drinking processed proteins these days, so I’ll be glad when it’s done.

        I’ll be training for this Ironman full on primal (which includes barefoot). That’ll be a tough enough and is pretty much non-primal in itself. I don’t wan’t crazy dieting on top of that. Just get it out of the way now… You know?

        Ultra-clean, high nutrient, anti-inflammatory diet will be first on my list in the near future.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 22, 2009 at 10:22

      I can’t recall J. May have been Lyle’s interview with Jimmy More.

  13. g on November 22, 2009 at 14:45


    Good luck on training for your IronMan!! That is a wonderful endeavor and motivating factor to get shredded… I totally hear ya!

    Have you considered reading up on Poliquin’s plan known as biosignature? Where is the body fat? That will help target the organ dysfunction e.g. low adrenal vs. high cortisol vs. thyroid, etc. He pushes a lot of fish oil which improves insulin sensitivity, increases adiponectin which shreds BODYFAT (as Sears promotes for Olympic athletes like Dara Torres, swimmer, and probably others ?? Phelps).

    Robb Wolf also shares his thoughts too on Poliquin at this blog (Robb does the nutr certifications for us at Crossfit).

    Good luck and look foward to seeing some RIPPED ABS,

    • Grok on November 23, 2009 at 02:32

      Thanks buddy! And thanks for the links! I’ll check those out for sure.

      Weighed it at noon today… dropped another 3 lbs this week! I’m really having great results. Those seem to happen when you down cheat or f-up! LOL

      I’ll have a write-up about it tomorrow, with the plan for next week.

      The journey is winding down 🙂

  14. g on November 23, 2009 at 10:58

    I’ve had that experience too!! I love Paleo!! Sometimes I sit around on my *ss, do nothing, eat more and BOOM then drop more body fat… wth… it is hard not to love and promote this lifestyle. 😉

    • Richard Nikoley on November 23, 2009 at 11:02

      I decided to quit the booze for a while and instead drink a glass or two of raw whole milk when I get the urge. Also, no fasting and plenty of nutrition in order to curb alcohol cravings. Amazing how strong they can become over time.

      Anyway, I’m actually leaning out more, and noticeably. Go figure.

      • san fran J(formerly Minneapolis J on November 23, 2009 at 11:20

        richard u hitting low 170s in weight now?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 23, 2009 at 11:33

        Yep, little dips below 175 and topping out at 176-177 now. Even still, there is leanness happening an shrinking sub-cut belly fat that goes beyond the small weight drop.

      • san fran J(formerly Minneapolis J on November 23, 2009 at 13:19

        thats great progress man……..slow weight loss is the key it looks like.

      • Grok on November 23, 2009 at 16:30


        Ditching the booze should help. I’ve a huge advocate, bu the raw dairy was helping to slow my progress (even though I ferment out most of the carbs). I’ve ditched it almost completely for the past 5 weeks I believe? Just something to keep in mind. Eades even mentions it in The Cure.

        I switched over to mostly Kombucha. No way in hell I’d pay $4 for it though. Brew Kombucha tea at home! Got to have those probiotics. I love Kasut too.

      • Grok on November 23, 2009 at 16:32

        Not really sure what’s up with that link, so here it is:

        Kasut = Kraut 😉

  15. g on November 23, 2009 at 20:53

    My adrenals improved (taking this Gaia supplement with holy basil that my sis and BIL take, which totally mellowed out the ‘road rage’ for him hat the omega-3 fish oil tamed but did not totally take away). Now I can’t take too much caffeine or alcohol. I know i know i know. wth! Heard to believe!! Anyhow, my adrenals coming into line helped get the bodyfat down further. I found for myself and others, when the thyroid is off, the adrenals are off kilter too. I quit dairy completely too for a while which further shredded BF (and maybe helped my thyroid/adrenal axis?!). Just fyi, my went dairy free (after a seminar with Robb Wolf) and everyone got further shredded…

    • Grok on November 23, 2009 at 21:36


      Vitamin D boost mellowed me out a ton. I supp some iodine too.

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